Hugo and the Media Kings
Venezuelan dictator hugo chavez has had no trouble finding allies willing to trade their country's democracy for green backs. Every dictator depends on greedy thugs as enforcers.
People form two factions: those who love and build and those who hate and destroy ~ José Martí
From this dualism are born heroes and villains. Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation rightfully points out that Fascism doesn't triumph without help.
Excerpts from the NY Sun::
June 6, 2007 -- On our TV screens in America, we see Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his army of thugs cracking down on the hundreds of thousands of students protesting the shutdown of the nation's last truly independent TV station. Yet, inside the story of "the dictator vs. the forces of freedom," is a tale of two Venezuelan media kings - one heroic, one craven.
The hero is RCTV's director, Marcel Granier - who received no legal notice of the shutdown. He first learned of it when Chavez announced that RCTV would be punished for criticizing the government, for being "bourgeois" and for "coup plotting." (As a final insult, the government two days before the shutdown produced a judge who ordered RCTV's equipment seized and "loaned" to a new government station that has now replaced it.)
In response, Granier has risked his life and fortune for the sake of freedom of expression. He has kept his TV reporters working; they're now broadcasting news segments on the student protests via YouTube, other Web sites and viral videos. The Congress' vice president has called for his arrest for "destabilizing."
Regime apologists will point to one other "independent" station, the privately held Venevision - which brings us to our media villain.
At first, Venevision did indeed harshly criticize Chavez. But in 2004 Chavez accused the station's owner, New York-based Gustavo Cisneros, of being behind a plot to overthrow the government. After a private meeting between the two (attended by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter), Venevision changed course: Political commentary disappeared; opposition marches and statements by opposition leaders began getting short shrift; news became entirely rosy coverage of government activities.
How deep is the collusion between Cisneros and Chavez? Consider a December 2006 phone conversation between Cisneros' senior deputy at Venevision, Carlos Bardasano, and Jesus Romero Anselmi, head of the government TV channel, Venezolana de Television. (The recording was posted anonymously on YouTube.com; "mirror sites" have defeated the regime's attempts to suppress the record.) In the call, the executives agree that "together, we are unstoppable." They also joke about how Venevision might undergo a name change to reflect government ownership.
Cisneros, a Fifth Avenue socialite, is a media giant. He's on the board of Univision, the United States' largest Latino broadcaster; his firm owns dozens of radio, TV and other telecom properties.
He's also wont to attend media conferences in the United States, delivering speeches about the media's duty to ensure that the public gets the information it needs and ensure government transparency. But back in Venezuela, Venevision executives have yet to even make a statement about the RCTV shutdown. Of course, Cisneros also stands to benefit enormously from the ad revenue that used to go to the rival channel.
Read the complete article here.